Stella's on 16th, One of Our Best New Restaurants, Closes Without Notice

Stella's on 16th closed after only seven months in business.
Stella's on 16th closed after only seven months in business.
Danielle Lirette
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Not seven months after Stella's on 16th debuted at 1550 Wewatta Street behind Union Station, the all-day restaurant and market is dark and the phones went unanswered over the weekend. While we were unable to reach owner Brian Cohen for comment, executive chef Thach Tran confirmed that the restaurant closed on the night of Thursday, August 3, taking many employees by surprise...and leaving them without final paychecks, a few report.

We're a little surprised, too, considering the positive review Gretchen Kurtz gave Stella's just a month ago; the place had landed on our list of the ten best restaurants to open so far this year.

But there were signs of trouble at Stella's recently — although not in the kitchen. Cohen drew the ire of several Denver bands after they were double-booked and then dropped from the restaurant's summer concert series on short notice.

Talent was not the issue, at least. Tran, who we recently profiled for our Chef & Tell series, rose to the level of executive sous-chef at ChoLon Modern Asian before taking the job as head chef at Uncle Joe's Hong Kong Bistro and then Stella's. The pastry program under MJ Szymanski also proved top-caliber.

The blocks between Union Station and the Millennium Bridge have seen a flurry of restaurant activity recently, with Pig & the Sprout, Tupelo Honey, Hearth & Dram and Public School 303 all opening in the ground-floor spaces of new apartment buildings and hotels in the area. And coming soon: Tavernetta (from the owners of Frasca Food & Wine) and Citizen Rail, which is expected to open next week.

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